A rock is a clock: physicist uses matter to tell time

page: 1

log in


posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 01:39 PM
Here is a discovery that might lead to a whole new understanding of time and the wave particle duality.


Ever since he was a kid growing up in Germany, Holger Müller has been asking himself a fundamental question: What is time?

That question has now led Müller, today an assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, to a fundamentally new way of measuring time.

Müller welcomes debate, since his experiment deals with a basic concept of quantum mechanics – the wave-particle duality of matter – that has befuddled students for nearly 90 years.

“We are talking about some really fundamental ideas,” Close said. “The discussion will create a deeper understanding of quantum physics.”

posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 02:07 PM
Unti the rock is moving relative to the person wanting to know what time it is?

Bill Haley and The Comets for dyslexics: "Clock around the Rock" - actually makes sense.

Also, I like the pudgy Jack Black better. (I have the flu - this might be the nyquil talking.)

posted on Jan, 16 2013 @ 02:30 AM
Nice experiment. thank you for posting, but I think theoretically, this is a mess.

re the actual experiment - near the end he says:

"Time is physical as soon as there is one massive particle, but it definitely is something that doesn’t require more than one massive particle for its existence. We know that a massless particle, like a photon, is not sufficient.”

Earlier he says:

"In the lab, Müller showed that he could measure this difference by allowing the matter waves of the fixed and moving cesium atoms to interfere in an atom interferometer. The motion was caused by bouncing photons from a laser off the cesium atoms"

Given that the laser photons were required to put the atoms in motion, surely one of the main proofs here is that a measurement of time requires *at least* the motions imparted by a photon? But he claims to have proven that 'massless' photons alone are not sufficient? I don't see it. Why can't I count photon-photon interactions to make a photon clock? There is certainly a lot of science done on photon-photon collisions.

As for the theoretical assumptions in the article regarding time:

Every measurement of time requires an initial fixed length to measure against. Time is a second measurement of distance. In this experiment, he's used the difference between the frequency his atoms to set his distance, then he is counting off that. It's funny that he mentions pendulums but apparently fails to see that even a pendulum requires a fixed rod length to be set initially. It is this fixing of a countable unit, then the process of counting which creates mathematically definable time. That's all time is. It certainly is not a ubiquitous physical dimension which hides away in the quantum realm handing out timestamps.

Some physicists are actually waking up to this mathematically and operationally grounded definition of time:


"Scientists suggest spacetime has no time dimension"

"The concept of time as a way to measure the duration of events is not only deeply intuitive, it also plays an important role in our mathematical descriptions of physical systems. For instance, we define an object’s speed as its displacement per a given time. But some researchers theorize that this Newtonian idea of time as an absolute quantity that flows on its own, along with the idea that time is the fourth dimension of spacetime, are incorrect. They propose to replace these concepts of time with a view that corresponds more accurately to the physical world: time as a measure of the numerical order of change.

They begin by explaining how we usually assume that time is an absolute physical quantity that plays the role of the independent variable (time, t, is often the x-axis on graphs that show the evolution of a physical system). But, as they note, we never really measure t. What we do measure is an object’s frequency, speed, etc. In other words, what experimentally exists are the motion of an object and the tick of a clock, and we compare the object’s motion to the tick of a clock to measure the object’s frequency, speed, etc. By itself, t has only a mathematical value, and no primary physical existence. This view doesn’t mean that time does not exist, but that time has more to do with space than with the idea of an absolute time. So while 4D spacetime is usually considered to consist of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, the researchers’ view suggests that it’s more correct to imagine spacetime as four dimensions of space. In other words, as they say, the universe is “timeless.”"

new topics

log in